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E-sports association Major League Gaming streams its way to operating profitability

Above: The crowd taking in the Dota 2 finals at MLG Columbus.

Image Credit: Enrique Espinoza/MLG

That Internet money is finally pushing Major League Gaming toward profitability.

The e-sports association revealed that it is finally making an operating profit. MLG chief executive officer Sundance DiGiovanni told e-sports news site OnGamers that the company is “EBITA positive.” That means the company is making a profit before interest, taxes, and amortization. Basically, the company is making more than it spends as long as you don’t count the stuff the government and banks take.

DiGiovanni revealed that this upturn in its financial performance comes after the company launched its livestreaming platform MLG.TV, which broadcasts gaming competitions and e-sports-related shows.

“Since launching MLG.TV, MLG has been EBITA positive and expects to stay EBITA positive on a quarterly basis in 2014,” he told OnGamers.

MLG launched its new online media strategy in November. The company wants to bring ESPN-style production to the web and competitive gaming. The league streamed its MLG Championship live from Columbus in late November, and it also launched its SportsCenter-like program, eSports Report. 

“I want to turn MLG.tv into the video game network,” Puckett told GamesBeat in November. “If you’re interested in anything — whether it’s first-person shooters, a role-playing game, or a strategy game — that you can find all of that. I want it to be a gamer’s entertainment destination. In the end, I want — when a kid comes home from school — the first thing they do is turn on MLG.tv.”

The company is now selling advertising against those products, and that’s one of the big ways it plans to generate revenue going forward. While that is helping the company reach EBITA profitability, DiGiovanni mentioned the problem of showing ads to a savvy online audience.

“For us, we’ve seen at times 65 percent or 70 percent [of viewers using ad-blocking software],” he said. “It’s understandable that people don’t want their privacy invaded and don’t want to be tracked, and that it’s really easy to forget about. But until we have some middle ground, it’s either all or nothing. It’s either [every ad] is being blocked or nothing is, and we have to try and figure that out.”

In addition to its media efforts, MLG also makes money from its competition platform that enables regular gamers to go online and compete against one another. The company also holds its semi-regular Championship events that fans can attend to watch live competitions in person.

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Sundance DiGiovanni is a seasoned executive, recognized thought leader in video game culture, and veteran creative director with more than 18 years of experience in the media, technology and video game industries. He co-founded MLG in... read more »

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